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Albert Pujols, the cardinals agree to treat

JUPITER, Fla. — While Albert Pujols has confirmed this will be the final season of his undisputed Hall of Fame career — and it will, fittingly, come with the same Cardinals organization where it started and where he enjoyed his biggest hit – he also insisted that this wasn’t just a ceremonial, nostalgic tour with a Hollywood-like savory ending.

No, Pujols is back in the Cardinals’ red trying to be one of the most feared punchers in the game, and he’s here to help St. Louis push for another World Series championship, he said. -he said multiple times on Monday after joining his former team on a single- Terms of the deal have not been announced, but it is worth $2.5 million, a source told MLB’s Mark Feinsand. com.

Time will tell if Pujols, 42, can summon the same kind of magic he had in his previous run with the Cardinals from 2001-2011 when he produced two championships, three MVP awards and a 10-year streak. hitting at least .300 and smashing 30 or more home runs. That, Pujols said with the steely gaze and driven mindset that became synonymous in his first race at St. Louis, is the one thing he hopes to take away from this final race in the jersey that presents the birds on the bat.

“For me, I think I’m here for a reason,” said Pujols, who emerged earlier in the day from beyond the right-field fence at Roger Dean Stadium and raced down the foul line to join his Cardinals teammates in the dugout in their 2-1 loss to the Astros. “They believe I can still play this game and they believe I can help this organization win a championship. And I believe in that too.”

Pujols — arguably one of the greatest players in the Cardinals’ storied history, alongside Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith — joins the franchise as wide receiver Yadier Molina enters his 19th and last season, and pitcher Adam Wainwright could also be on his way out. .

“He looks fit and motivated,” said Wainwright, who noted that Pujols awoke him from his pre-match nap on Monday with a “bear hug”.

“Any time Albert is motivated, it’s a very, very dangerous thing,” Wainwright said. “He’s motivated to show people he’s not too old or not on the slope. I don’t think he wants it to be nostalgic, he wants to get out there and prove something. That chip is good to put on your shoulder. It’s cool to be liked, it’s a good thing, and nobody is no longer loved by him, but he wants to prove himself.

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. saw an immediate response from Pujols’ addition — he spotted a fan wearing a No. 5 jersey when he arrived at team headquarters Monday morning. DeWitt Jr. called the signing “the highlight of spring.” “

Pujols enters Season 21 with less than 700 homers, with much of that damage coming from his historic run with the Cardinals for 11 seasons. and won the Gold Glove Award twice.

Pujols, who left St. Louis in 2011 to sign a 10-year, $240 million free agent contract with the Angels, has had emotional returns to St. Louis in recent years while playing for Anaheim and the Los Angeles Dodgers. the standing ovations he received from Cardinals fans — both before and after the homering of current Cardinal Dakota Hudson in 2019 and JA Happ last season — kept him daydreaming about a possible return to St. Louis to crown his career.

“There was always hope, so you never close the door. The organization never closed the door on me, and I never closed the door either. It’s a great opportunity. Everything always happens on God’s time, and it’s the perfect time right now. I’m back here and I’m really excited.

Wainwright, Pujols’ teammate in St. Louis from 2005 to 2011, said home runs at Busch Stadium in recent years have put him in a rather tricky position. On the one hand, he wanted to support his fellow Cardinals pitchers, but he was also very happy for his close friend.

“We never held a grudge,” said Wainwright, who admitted to lobbying management in recent days to re-sign Pujols. “It seemed like with the fans a lot of time had passed, and it seemed like water under the bridge.

“They were happy to see him and when he hit that home run, it was just the most Albert thing ever. Dakota throws, and he throws bowling ball sinkers and Albert lifts one. In dugout, I was trying not to smile. I was like, ‘Oh my God, my teammate just gave up a home run, but that’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen It really stinks for Dakota, but it’s really cool for Albert.’ I didn’t know what to do, but it was so Albert.

As if he needed extra motivation, Pujols said knowing it would be his last season would lead him to finish in style – hopefully with a World Series trophy hoisted above his head. head.

“That’s it for me, it’s my last race,” Pujols said candidly. [Molina and Wainwright]had a big influence on me, and we have a great history together. Now we want to add to our story. Hopefully we can do it this year and lift that championship trophy. If we can do that, it would be really special for us.”

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